Personal Biosecurity: Stop the Spread of Invasive Species

Ecosystems around the world are at risk due to the spread of invasive species, it is our job to protect them by taking personal biosecurity precautions.

Each ecosystem is comprised of a unique set of species: plant, fungi, insect, bird, and the list goes on. Introducing species from other parts of the world that don’t belong in an environment can cause major damages and even local extinctions. As climatic conditions begin to change invasive species are seen as a top global threat to native biodiversity of ecosystems. Unfortunately, this trend has no indication of slowing down and humans are seen to be the main cause. Growing tourism, international settlement, resource extraction, and changing climate leaves ecosystems even more at risk of biological invasion by invasive species. Personal biosecurity can help.

Damage to booby egg from an invasive rat on Isla de la Plata, Ecuador. Photo Credit: Rory Stansbury/Island Conservation

It is really hard to remove invasive species once introduced, therefore the most effective method of stopping this trend is to prevent the introduction of potentially harmful invasive species. Preserving our local and global environment is essential to maintaining healthy habitats for all living species, including humans. Luckily there are ways that we as individuals can help prevent invasives from spreading using simple precautionary measures.

 Video about biosecurity in the Arctic

There are simple steps to take in order to assure that you don’t accidentally bring an invasive species with you as you travel. Brush, wash, and vacuum all your clothes, shoes, bags, luggage, and equipment before leaving home.

Once invasive species are established, removing them is a costly and multifaceted task that takes meticulous planning and execution. That is why the first and most effective approach should be prevention. Taking personal biosecurity precautions can eliminate the spread of invasive species, tackling the root cause of a global environmental issue. Do what you can by always remembering to wash, brush, and vacuum clothes, shoes, and equipment before traveling.

Wash, brush, and vacuum your gear before leaving the house.

Credit: Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA) in cooperation with the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry of Finland.

Feature photo: Invasive plants such as pampas grass displace native plants and create habitats that are lower in biodiversity.
Credit: coniferconifer

About Isabelle Everhart

Isabelle Everhart is a current senior at UC Santa Cruz, pursuing a B.A. in Environmental Studies after transferring from Santa Barbara City College with an A.A. in Liberal Arts. She is expected to graduate summer 2019 after completing a field quarter in California Ecology and Conservation with the UC Natural Reserve System. Her background work in sustainability lead to her involvement in piloting a LEED lab on the UCSC campus, which uses the LEED green building certification standard to assess building operations in creating feasibility studies. Her passion for sustainability, conservation, and marine-related species make her excited to join the Island Conservation Communications team.

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